You Better Bustle!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

As a Bridal Attendant, one of the main aspects of my job description is holding up the bride's train as she walks and fluffing her dress during her photos and before the reception entrance. Typically however, after the couples' first dance as husband and wife, the bride is going to want her dress train bustled. The bustle shortens the length of the train so it won't drag or get stepped on during the reception. Bustles make it easier for the bride to get around and hide any imperfections in the dress that might have resulted from the day's events.

There are quite a few different bustle types and in my bridal experience, I can definitely tell you that some hold up better than others. Certain dresses are better suited for certain bustles, so ask your seamstress which one she recommends for your particular dress. Keep in mind that the heavier the fabric is, the stronger the bustle will need to be. A cathedral train, for example, will prove more difficult to bustle securely, as will delicate fabrics such as lace or silk organza, which can tear easily. Bustles also vary in terms of price, but don't let a higher price stray you away from a better bustle - trust me, a good bustle is a very worthwhile investment! Each type of bustle creates a very different look, so every bride better be educated when it comes to her bustle!

The two main types of bustles are the over-bustle and under-bustle. The over-bustle is usually created by pulling the train up and over the back of the dress and securing it at a point along the waistline or behind the knee for a gown without a waistline. The under-bustle is a more complicated series of ribbons and ties that are attached from underneath the gown to draw excess material up and under.

One Point Over-Bustle

This is the easiest, simplest and often least expensive bustle, but it is also the most likely to break. Since there is only one loop and hook, the bustle should only be used if the dress is made of light fabric. Typically, this bustle is composed of a single button at the bottom of the bodice and a loop somewhere in the middle of the train. The one point over-bustle is easy to do and creates a very traditional look.

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Three Point Over-Bustle

More secure than a one point bustle, the three point bustle will help spread out the train and is better suited for heaver fabrics. There are a few ways this bustle can be done.

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One Point Under-Bustle

This bustle is secured with ribbon ties under the gown, making it totally hidden. Since they are tied together, under-bustles are usually stronger than an over-bustles.

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The French Bustle

This is a type of under-bustle, created by a series of ribbons and ties underneath the gown. The French bustle is great for full gowns made with heavy or delicate fabric. They vary in height and can have anywhere from 2 to 25 ties in them.

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The Double & Triple French Bustle

Also known as "whipped cream bustles," the double and triple French bustles are achieved the same way as the single French.  Typically, there are multiple rows of ties in this bustle to create the layering effect.

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The Ballroom Bustle

This bustle is definitely more of a statement than a traditional bustle.  If it is done right, it can make the gown look like there was never a train at all. A ballroom bustle is a type of over-bustle, secured at multiple points along the bottom of the bodice.  This will spread the train out and create the look of a normal skirt. It's perfect for dresses with long trains and is very secure.

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The Austrian Bustle

Similar to a window shade loop and pull system, this bustle is becoming increasingly popular thanks to its security. You simply pull a string, the train will bunch upward and tie off with a knot.

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No matter what your bustle looks like, it is always possible for one of the loops or ribbons to break. To ensure that the bustle is done correctly, have your seamstress color code or number the ribbons that need to be tied together. Diaper pins are good to have on hand as they are capable of holding heavy fabrics and can replace a broken loop.

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You can always ask your seamstress about combining different types of bustles, depending on your dress and style preferences. But most importantly, remember that your dress is bustled for a longer period of time than un-bustled, so make sure that it not only looks great, but is also secure and comfortable to move in!

Thanks for reading!